Jonathan's Picks

by Carroll, Lewis

Often thought of as a druggy fantasy or turned into a psuedo-horror or even (by Disney) into an epic battle of good-and-evil, but none of those ideas are really accurate. This is firstly a virtuosic and hilarious demonstration of Carroll's love of illogic and language, and secondly a portrayal of Wonderland: a world that is stranger than you can imagine and which doesn't care about you very much at all. In that, it's the most realistic world in all of literature.

by Vonnegut, Kurt

Vonnegut is one of my favorites. Cat's Cradle, with it's Bokonist philosophical meditations, the engrossing sci-fi conceit of Ice-9, and Vonnegut's wry humanism dripping off every page is my favorite.

by Borges, Jorge Luis

From Tlon to Pierre Menard, Borges gives us new worlds that reflect back our own world in ways that we have never seen them before. Along with Kafka, probably the greatest short story writer of all time.

by Calvino, Italo

Sweet, strange, and beautiful little gems. Every Calvino book is a gift.

This title is only available via Interlibrary Loan

by Bechdel, Alison

A great and heartbreaking memoir in comic book form. It tells the story of Alison Bechdel (whose name you might know because the Bechdel Test for cinema originated in an newpaper comic she wrote) and her youth growing up in a funeral home (the "fun home" of the title), her sometimes difficult relationship with her father, discovering her sexuality and coming out, the consequent revelation that her father was a closeted gay man, and the unresolved aftermath of his subsequent death. That might sound heavy, and it is at times, but it's also profoundly funny and humane and even universal somehow. It's also been adapted by Tesori and Kron into one of the best musicals in the last few years.

by Marquez, Gabriel Garcia

The greatest epic of magical realism, which is probably my favorite genre of novel. Dense, beautiful and profound.

by Nabokov, Vladimir

Look, this is a challenging work. Formatted as an epic poem with extensive endnotes (several times the length of the poem itself), and featuring a deeply unreliable narrator, with language that is among the most precise and gorgeous ever written in English, this one demands a lot of the reader. But the reward is a book that is startlingly weird, exciting, thought-provoking, and laugh out loud funny.

This title is only available via Interlibrary Loan

by Austen, Jane

My favorite Jane.

by Clarke, Susanna

Clarke's long-awaited follow-up to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is narrated by a deeply peculiar character who lives in an infinitely large mansion filled with strange sculptures and which seems to be slowly sinking into the sea. The world he describes is at first inscrutable but compelling, and over the course of this brief and beautiful novella becomes increasingly comprehensible (and teasingly intertextual) but stays just as dangerous and fascinating.

by Sachar, Louis

This, the Marx Brothers, Weird Al Yankovic, and Space Ghost Coast to Coast are the basis of my entire sense of humor.

This title is only available via Interlibrary Loan

by Le Guin, Ursula

It is a close call between this and The Dispossessed for my favorite Le Guin, and the fact that this is the fourth book in the Earthsea tetralogy would be a strike against it, but the way that it deconstructs the mythology of the world of the original trilogy (itself a deconstruction of a lot of high fantasy) is so thoughtful and lovely and kind and small and thorough, that I have to give the nod here.

This title is only available via Interlibrary Loan

by Mccloud, Scott

This comic book guide to how comics work is more than a guide to one of the most interesting mediums of the 20th century, it's a treatise on how art works in general, and it rewired my brain when I first read it.

This title is only available via Interlibrary Loan

by Jackson, Shirley

Merricat is one of my favorite narrators in all of fiction.

This title is only available via Interlibrary Loan